Breeding to Collect Trichomes

Tyler Markwart        

Medical cannabis activist, farmer, hash maker, syndicated journalist, and consultant with over 25 years experience in the medical, legacy, and recreational markets


The term “Hash plant” has been around for decades. Most notably the term showed up in the Seed Bank Catalogue in the 1980’s and 90’s as a plant that was selected for its hash-like flavor. In this article I will be referencing the term “Hash plant” as a plant that was selected because of the overall quality and yield of the hash that was derived from the sieving process and not that the plant's chemical profile tastes like hash in flower form. 

With more people growing and selectively crossing plants, we are starting to see some very unique expressions coming out of some of these  contemporary cannabis lines. Phenotypes like the Mac1, Oreoz, White Truffle and Slurricane all look like they are just coated in a sea of trichomes. But when it comes to sieving in a dry sift method or an ice water sieving style, there are specific characteristics that the plant needs to possess in order to produce a 6 star quality, full melt hash. Let’s take a look at a few characteristics that are important to observe when selecting a plant to grow for sieving.   

1. Trichome Durability

Can the plant's trichome heads handle the run? The quality of your hash is dependent on how well the plant is grown, the plant's genetic potential and how the plant is handled post harvest. That tiny little trichome head has to go weeks without getting damaged. 



That is quite a task considering that the plant is constantly moving due to wind up until harvest, then it has to be trimmed and then it gets pushed around in a bath of water and ice or vigorously sieved across a nylon screen. That trichome head has to have specific traits such as a slightly thicker cell wall when fully developed so that it can handle that lengthy and rough journey through its growing cycle to the end result.   

One trick that is used to help select plants that might wash well, is to gently rub the plants sugar leaves and buds while the plant is in its later stage of flowering. If the trichome heads feel gritty like little bits of sand, then that is a good indicator you are headed down the right path. If the trichome heads are greasy and they smear all over your fingers, then it's more likely that they won't make it through the sieving process without bursting.   

2. Resin Content

The chemical composition of the trichome heads is one of the major factors in how well the trichome head melts.  The plants that have higher terpene and other secondary metabolites end up making better hash.  So using analytical testing as well as sensory observations can really help dial this category in.  Pairing the data you get from the plant with the quality of the hash will help you get a better idea of what it is you’re looking for in your selections. 




3. Cell Wall Thickness 

Thickness of the cell wall impacts how much chlorophyll and other components get out of the cell and into solution. This is important because when you are moving the material around on a dry sift screen or inside a bubble bag, the more turgid the cell wall, the less contamination you will get.  If you can knock off the trichome head without breaking the cell wall of the flower or leaf then the odds of having material that is considered full melt increases. 

4. Know Your Plant


Knowing your plant is the real key to success. Keeping notes will help you increase your returns and quality over time. Harvest the same cultivar at different times and compare the end results. You may find that harvesting early is better for color but the effect of the hash isn’t as strong.  While waiting to harvest may give you the effect that you are looking for but the appearance isn’t as photogenic.    

Try blending plants harvested early and plants pushed later and see what the results are.  

Ending Thoughts

Sieving hash is a wonderful experience that doesn’t cost a ton of money to get started. One of the most important things to remember is that sieving is a “Gold in, Gold out” process which means you need to start with really high quality material if you want to have really high quality hash at the end.  But don’t let that discourage you from practicing and honing your hash making skills.  Anyone can add water, ice and cannabis to a bucket and stir. Its the nuances of each step, the preparations, precautions and touch that makes high quality hash.   

Thoughts? Let us know by joining our secret Facebook group. Hang out with a community of like-minded solventless heads like yourself. Ask our head extractor questions, share your latest press and learn from hobbyists and experts in the industry.


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